Archive for Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ideas for attracting jobs to Lawrence are offered

March 28, 2007


There's been no shortage of talk about jobs from the six candidates seeking a seat on the Lawrence City Commission.

On one side, there are Commissioners Boog Highberger and David Schauner and candidate Carey Maynard-Moody. The three generally have said the city's job growth - although not stellar - has largely followed national trends. They've also taken exception to criticism that the current City Commission has fostered an unhealthy environment for job growth.

On the other side are candidates James Bush, Rob Chestnut and Mike Dever. That trio has said the city's job growth has trailed other communities. They also generally have said the City Commission has not done enough to welcome and recruit new businesses to Lawrence.

Here's what each candidate had to say when asked to explain their "single best idea to attract jobs to Lawrence."

James Bush

Bush said he thought creating a partnership that would establish a new vocational training school in Lawrence would make the city a more attractive place for businesses to locate.

"Businesses would come to Lawrence because of a broad-based work force," Bush said. "But the partnership has to include a collective attitude from the City Commission that we have put out the welcome mat and are open for business."

Rob Chestnut

Chestnut said the City Commission needs to work to strengthen its partnership between the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the Douglas County Commission on funding economic development recruitment efforts.

He said he's concerned about a decision by the City Commission to create a city position of economic development planner because it may send mixed messages to potential employers about which organization they should be dealing with.

"We need to ensure that we are speaking with one voice to all the potential employers out there," Chestnut said. "That's important because that is where it all starts."

Mike Dever

Dever said he would "ramp up" the activity of the Lawrence-Douglas County Economic Development Board. He said the board of community leaders and elected officials needs to meet more often and be more proactive in communicating economic development activities to city commissioners.

"There's really no one third-party measuring stick to see how the chamber is doing in its recruitment efforts," Dever said. "Accountability is my one big idea."

Boog Highberger

Highberger, an incumbent commissioner, said focusing efforts on attracting bioscience companies would produce the best chance for Lawrence to attract new, high-quality jobs to the city.

"There's a great wealth of research at KU," Highberger said. "If we create a culture of providing the proper support, a lot of that research could turn into local job opportunities."

Carey Maynard-Moody

Maynard-Moody said creating additional vocational training opportunities in Lawrence was important.

"I think it would be really helpful in our community to have more variety in our work force," Maynard-Moody said.

David Schauner

Schauner, an incumbent commissioner, said the community needs to come to a mutual understanding about how it will attract new jobs.

"We need a common vision for our future, which includes an agreement that we will never again utter the words that 'Lawrence is no growth,'" Schauner said. "The people who say that are doing a disservice to the community, because the more it is said the more people begin to believe it. And it just isn't true."

The election is Tuesday. Voters will choose the winners of three at-large seats on the commission.


jmadison 11 years, 2 months ago

I didn't realize how much of an alternative reality Highberger, Schauner, and Rundle were living in, until I read that they have had nothing to do with the terrible employment numbers under their reign. They aren't much different than Bush in denying responsiblity for their failed policies and anti-capitalist stances.

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

Let me be the first Schauner,LAWRENCE IS NO GROWTH,and the numbers are out we have LOST 900 JOBS lies lies lies smoke and mirrors Schauner,Boog,Moody can you say job loss no growth. Im done with the lies

VOTE Dever,Chestnut,Bush lets stop the loss of jobs to lawrence

lets have a great day

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

Merrill no words from your camp the boat is sinking and I told you to stay on the ship.I know its tuff but just say the words lawrence is no growth you stood behind the lies and now your exposed.900 lost jobs WOW

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

900 LOST JOBS what and how many lies will come out at forum tonight

abby 11 years, 2 months ago

Wow...900 lost jobs. Now I can see why Boog and Schauner are hiding behind their fuzzy numbers about job growth. Yes, more people are living here and working....just not working in Lawrence...we are becoming the bedroom community we did not want to become under this commission. It is time for a change folks before we can't afford our bedrooms!

sourpuss 11 years, 2 months ago

None of those responses were particularly intelligent. No wonder the city is in the situation it is in when this is the calibur of thinking that is driving it. More of the same, blah, blah, blah.

I'm not voting for any of them.

blackwalnut 11 years, 2 months ago

1800 jobs were added in Lawrence in 2005 and 2006.

The Bush economy, held together with smoke and mirrors these past few years, is beginning to implode. Job losses and home foreclosures is a national problem. We can hope Lawrence does better than some cities, and because of the stabilizing force of the university I think it will.

opinion 11 years, 2 months ago


They all were really vague responses but Mr. Schauner's was really odd. I guess his plan to bring more jobs is to get people to stop saying "no growth"? Great plan.

cowboy 11 years, 2 months ago

Bush just got one of my votes , we NEED a local Vo Tech for the benefit of our kids and grandkids , they can learn a trade and start their own businesses !

abby 11 years, 2 months ago

Blackwalnut...there were 1800 GROSS jobbs added..not NET jobs and that statistic only says there were 1800 more people living in Lawrence working somewhere...not necessarily working in Lawrence. The state numbers indicate that there were actually 900 jobs lost in Lawrence

blackwalnut 11 years, 2 months ago

I think Reality_Check is right - entrepreneurial training would help people without a degree to build something. That will remain true only if the business climate remains friendly to small, independently-owned businesses - something that is truly being threatened right now.

jafs 11 years, 2 months ago

Please read the article on jobs again.

The numbers quoted were a gross gain for Lawrence, and an "average" loss in Douglas County of 900 jobs.

That certainly does not say Lawrence has lost 900 jobs.

It is a very unclear way to state the facts - why do we have no clear net numbers for Lawrence?

blackwalnut 11 years, 2 months ago

Job growth is a worthy goal. Problem is, how to create jobs without destroying the things that make people want to live in Lawrence. Also, how to ensure any growth is solid and sustainable, not just some bubble supported by a temporary infusion of taxpayer dollars.

Biotech, as one candidate suggested, makes a lot of sense. Clean, makes an advantage of the university, has to hire semi-skilled labor, would be supported by KU and the KU Med Center. Let's exploit what we already have - the university - to make more jobs.

I think it's also important not to destroy what we have, which is a unique town that is very different from the Kansas City megalopolis. People do come to Lawrence, and spend money, because of the character and spors and cultural events and the shops and restaurants downtown. (They don't come here to shop at the same chain store they have in their town.) I put people up all the time because they want to visit Lawrence.

Michael Capra 11 years, 2 months ago

cry and wine as you wish the facts are simple Boog,Schauner and moody lied about the numbers.900 JOBS LOST NO GAIN AS THEY WISH you to believe.GREEN GREEN LOSE LOSE

Janet Lowther 11 years, 2 months ago

The best thing for attracting jobs to Lawrence would be to get rid of the "We're a college town. We don't get our hands dirty." attitude.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.